Righto. Let’s get on with it.
As always I’m squirming after writing such an emotive entry. Do you people realise how lucky you are? (Insert smirk here.) Because year after year I keep letting it all hang out for the masses, documenting every bad mood, every tantrum and ill-considered rant despite the fact so many people are watching, many of whom I know.
It’s a love/hate relationship with blogging. Each entry is a snapshot of a sliver of time in which you might not necessarily be at your most articulate. You put it out there then leave yourself vulnerable to all sorts of feedback. And quite often by the time you hit the Publish button, you’ve written yourself out of the crappy mood anyway.
Nevertheless, it’s invaluable to have a record of a rollercoaster journey. You can see the patterns of behaviour. For example, you can see parallels in my recent behaviour to how I felt two months after I moved to Scotland – bleak thoughts, overwhelmed, unmotivated, hopeless, teary, excessive self-pity… excessive self-deprecation to disguise the self-pity. Back then I quickly identified this as potential depression, going on my previous episodes. But because I caught it so early on, I kicked into preventative action right away.
The night I posted the last entry, I couldn’t sleep and was just lay there doing that crying-quietly-in-the-dark thing and wondered what the hell to do. I felt the fog was rolling in and I didn’t have control of my life or emotions. I considered going to the doctor and asking for anti-depressants. I wanted to wave the white flag and cry, Yep, I’m back down here again. Someone please help me back up!
But then I realised why I felt so goddamn awful. I simply stopped looking after myself. I’d let a few weeks of holiday indulgence drag on for another three weeks once I got back home. After that one jetlagged Body Pump class, I’d only done two more classes in three weeks. I ate a tonne of chocolate and toast and cheese and assorted crap. Yes, I was feeling so miserable to be back in Scotland and all the issues in the last entry — but I had exacerbated and prolonged the problem by letting my physical health slip.
That may sound simplistic to you, but this is how it works for me. My mental and physical health go hand in hand. After much trial and error I finally figured out that regular exercise and healthy eating were just as effective for me as the loony pills. Actually, more so. As soon as I am looking after my body and getting the happy chemicals flowing, I am able to cope with challenges. It clears the fog, instantly boosts my self esteem, helps me see solutions to problems, and gives me the energy to take action.
So I wasn’t going to surrender. I’d caught it early again and I knew what I had to do. The more you know yourself, the quicker you can fix yourself.
Sunday afternoon I went for a run with the Scottish Companion. Good lord, I was shite! I’ve barely run at all since the Race of Life 5k in June because of my knee injury. At 4.30pm it was already dark and freezing and they hadn’t turned the lights on in the park. But we walk/ran for fifty minutes, me huffing and puffing and trying to find the light button on my stopwatch. After awhile I was so hot, my skin burned and I had to take my gloves off. But it was fucking brilliant! Aside from an occasional dog walker, the park was quiet and empty. I just lost myself in the sensation of making my body do what it’s meant to do. Running is such a sensual experience compared to being in the gym with a squawky instructor. It’s all fresh air, trees, icy wind blasting your face, screaming muscles, and the amazing feeling and rhythm of your legs just striding out over and over.
And it totally worked. Fifty minutes and I felt like my mojo was back.
I’m determined to get things in order. For the past three years I’ve used small Moleskine journals as an organiser, writing down all my lists of things to do, goals, recipes, story ideas, overhead conversations, travel details, important numbers in one handy place. I’d just filled my third up last week, so I’ve got a brand new empty one. It’s all rather symbolic, yo. The last one covers August 2004 til now, including trips to the Baltic States, Spain, USA, Australia, plus 5k training notes, journalist’s phone numbers and three weddings worth of To Do lists. Looking back through my scribbles I know it was the most incredible year-and-a-bit of my life. As many of you commented, I have had some non-fat achievements. But now I have a new book and all those empty pages to fill with new goals, ideas and adventures.
On the first page I’ve already made a list of all sorts of things I want to do, both specific goals and lofty dreams.
It was an all-action weekend, really. We have been DIY-ing like mofos to turn our spare room into a study. The Scottish Companion works from home, but his office has been the couch. Which means there’s no separation of his home/work lives, leading to major frazzlement. And also, I’ve been longing for a quiet space to shut the door and do some writing when his pals are over. SO, we painted the walls, bought a desk and bookshelves and big leather executive chair that looks like the kind of thing an movie villain would sit in and stroke a fluffy cat.
The transformation wasn’t a quick process, especially when SC forgot the 5-litre paint pot was sitting on top of the step ladder when he moved it, launching Dulux Natural Straw all over the door, wall, ceiling and the one patch of carpet we hadn’t covered. Oh yeah, and on SC’s head and crotch (HILarious!). But the hard graft was deeply satisfying in a nerdly DIY sort of way. It’s finally starting to feel more like our home, instead of me just visiting SC’s Grotty Student Digs. Now I can’t to settle down and get on with my writing goals.
So things are looking up, huzzah!